Do You Take Clean Water for Granted? If So, How Will You Ever Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness?

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6; ESV). It’s easy to take clean water for granted in the U.S., especially if you drink filtered and bottled spring water all the time. Did you know that nearly 700 million people across the world lack access to clean water? That’s nearly ten percent of the people on the planet.[1] Papua New Guinea has the worst clean water access.[2] It’s one thing if you live in the gentrified Port Moresby, b … [Read more...]

Suffering for the Christian Faith Does Not Need to Be Salt in the Wounds, but Salt of the Earth

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10; ESV).I admire my friend Abir greatly. She is one of the strongest Christians I know, and is a person full of wisdom and discernment. But such strength and wisdom come with a price tag of suffering. Abir is an American citizen, who is of Palestinian descent. Her father is a Muslim, who struggled when she became a Christian given its associations in his mind with Western political … [Read more...]

What Are We Declaring Independence from Today? The Tyranny of One Another?

Sometimes a common enemy serves to unite a people more than a common love. The ratification of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, which we celebrate this Tuesday, resulted from the outcry against King George and England’s tyranny. Unjust and inequitable rule served to unite the thirteen colonies and spur them on to a shared ideal. Do we have a common enemy today in the U.S., or a shared ideal that leads us to pursue or preserve independence? If so, is that tyrannous force an ext … [Read more...]

“Driving While Black” and Racial Fear: An Interview with Pastor Jimi Calhoun

Last week, three trials involving African American men shot and killed by police officers concluded with no guilty verdicts. Each of the incidents began with traffic stops and the shootings were caught on video. The outcry of anger and fear in the African American community is high. Do we who are white ever ask ourselves what it would feel like to be “driving while black”?I reached out to Jimi Calhoun (JC), an African American, a pastor, community activist, author and musician based in Aus … [Read more...]

What Does Mourning Have to Do with Happiness and Clowning Around?

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4; ESV)Can one be happy or blessed all the time? Is happiness the same thing as clowning around? Can one be happy and mourn simultaneously? If we think of happiness or blessedness as a perpetual state of being that is equivalent to clowning around all the time, then there’s no occasion for mourning. If, however, we think of happiness or blessedness as a state of being in which one responds appropriately to life circu … [Read more...]

How Can We Be Peacemakers if We Are Pugnacious, or Too Nice?

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9; ESV). It’s very hard to be a peacemaker if one is not a peaceful person. It’s also very hard to be a peacemaker if one is not able to see clearly one’s own part in a conflict, as well as others’ roles. Moreover, it’s very hard to make peace if one is simply nice, or simply trying to keep the peace.David is a friend of mine from Uganda. He’s a peaceful person. He calms you down just by visiting with him—I sho … [Read more...]

Paganism Is Back! Now What Are We Christians Going to Do?

Years ago, a Wiccan leader by the name of Jason Pitzl-Waters spoke in my world religions class. One of the things he said that stood out to me was the level of consternation many American Christians face when witnessing the rise of modern Paganism. They thought Christianity had triumphed over Paganism, and that it was extinct. To their chagrin, it has risen from the ash heap.I raised this topic with another Pagan leader, Annika Mongan, who spoke in my world religions class today. Annika … [Read more...]